Tesla Referrals

For the over six years I’ve owned two Tesla vehicles, I have taken many friends and acquaintances on rides and a few on test drives.  Most people are quite reluctant to actually drive someone else’s car, so by far most were test rides not test drives.

I thought it would be interesting to report on the actual referrals I made before Tesla’s current referral program existed for the Model S.

The first friend who bought a Model S was a former close work colleague. We drove around in my Roadster many years ago.  He knew about my blog and told other people that I was driving a Roadster.  He bought one of the first 10,000 Model Ss and now his wife also has a Model S.  He is a complete gadget junkie, so he would have likely eventually bought a Tesla but I’m sure my reference accelerated his purchase.

Another couple I know well leased a Model S.  Jason is a car fanatic and I took him on the factory tour when I picked up my Model S in early 2013.  Two and a half years later he and his husband leased a demo model with 1,300 miles on it.  Since they are serial leasers, the exact options were not of concern.  With irony they replaced a BMW convertible for a 70D Model S without a pano roof.

Travis and Jason's New Tesla

Travis and Jason’s New Tesla

They own three homes:  one on the peninsula, a condo in San Francisco, and home in wine country.  For only $180 an electrician wired their peninsula home with a convenient 40 Amp dryer outlet. In San Francisco Jason can use a company charger.  In the wine country they already had a 220 Volt plug already in their garage. From their home in wine country, they also have easy access to the Petaluma supercharger on their way back to their homes near their jobs.

During the summer of 2014, I visited a friend in her second residence in Oregon.  We took a long day trip including visiting The Dalles supercharger.  The town name “The Dalles” always confuses me, very few places have the word “the” in the name.  The word is from the French world “dalle”, which means flagstone.  Near the supercharger, water flows through the Columbia river over a series of rocks.

This summer, my friend and her husband called me to discuss various options on the Model S.  I suggested and they agreed that unless your in love with the look of the 21” wheels or live somewhere where you can take advantage of the grip, the 19” wheels are a better choice.   He is a doctor in Arkansas and plans to primary drive from home to his two offices. I also suggested that the air suspension is not necessary unless you live somewhere that it is required to park the car.  In my experiments with trying to test the air suspension on freeways, I have yet to see that lowering the suspension in real world conditions made any truly significant drop in energy use.  But those test were very hard to do accurately and I could never obtain reliable data to report.  A third question was the battery size.  I recommended the largest battery possible, and I would recommend this to anyone with the budget.

Arkansas is a Supercharger Desert

Arkansas is a Supercharger Desert

Their primary residence is in Arkansas and they will be likely one of the few in that state.  Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, North Dakota, Iowa, Maine, Alaska, and Hawaii are the only states left without any superchargers.  Arkansas has some icy winter driving conditions, so they chose to buy the D option but felt no need to purchase a P version. Unfortunately, their order had been processed far enough in the three days between the phone call and the announcement of the referral program that the $2,000 stayed with Tesla.

At this point, I have only one $1,000 credit (Thank you!).  Feel free to use my link till the end of October.  I will be very soon buying the extended warranty at a cost of $4,000 as I am very close to 50,000 miles.

2015 Shareholder Meeting

I attended today my first Tesla shareholder meeting. For somewhat bizarre reasons, I did not become a shareholder in Tesla till last year when I bought some shares.  The amount is quite small (far less than 1% of my net worth) and has no bearing on the honesty of my blog.

Unlike traditional dull shareholder meetings in the past, this meeting was quite enjoyable.  The business part was over quickly and included a warm thanks from Elon to the retiring CFO.  Elon gave a short overview speech and answered about 10-15 questions from the audience.

After the official meeting, I went to charge my car at the new supercharger located in the parking lot.  As I was chatting with a fellow shareholder I met at a supercharger in Oregon, I noticed the CTO JB Straubel talking to some owners.  I took the opportunity to join in the conversation and ask some questions myself.

Model S / Autopilot

Elon mentioned that Teslas (not 100% sure if Roadsters are included) have been driven 1 billion miles as of today June 9, 2015, and that the new 70D is about 1/3 of Model S sales.  Elon has been testing the autopilot features and will be released to Beta customers by or near the end of the month.

Model X

Elon did say the Model X is coming in 3 to 4 months and had a photo of it on the screen.  I think the following quote is quite telling:

“The Model X may be a better SUV than the Model S is a sedan”.

Powerwall

Both Elon and JB expressed dissatisfaction with the current information available about the Tesla Energy products.  Elon announced that the Powerwall now has a significant increase in power output making it a more usable solution for backup power in case of a power outage; a typical home can now run everything except air conditioning.  Price with install for an existing solar customer will be $4,000.  They are prioritizing deliveries to existing Tesla customers with solar.

I asked JB about the huge interest Tesla is seeing for the Powerwall as my return on investment with existing solar is 18 years.  He said there are very specific markets:  Germany, Australia, and South Africa where the economics make sense. He also mentioned the large interest in the Powerpack product for utilities. If they need to expand, they can add Powerpacks to existing substations.  This advantage saves physical space and wires.  JB mentioned keen interest among specific utilities.

Superchargers

The new Mountain View supercharger was opened up.   I charged at my 86th supercharger today.

New Supercharger Cable

New Supercharger Cable

Tesla had representatives hanging around to talk to the customers.  The only real difference now is that the charging cable is liquid cooled, flexible, thinner and lighter.  The cable is the same width as the one we use at home.  In California and warmer climates, the existing supercharger cables work fine, but in colder climates the existing cables can get very stiff.

These cables will support more voltage than today’s cables.  So eventually we will be able to charge above 120V.

Elon clarified that superchargers are really for long distance trips.  He acknowledged that there are some people using them for daily driving, and mentioned that a few are getting notes to that effect.  An owner can technically and legally use only superchargers for daily driving.

Elon did say that eventually all superchargers would be powered from renewables.  Where possible and appropriate they will have solar panels, or they will buy electricity from other renewable sources.

Battery Swap

Tesla does not think there is much interest in battery swapping.  The initial 200 people that were invited to the Beta of the station at Harris Ranch, only 4 or 5 swapped their batteries and only did it once.  Tesla has now invited all the owners in California, and they are receiving about the same amount of interest as the initial group.

Space X

A shareholder asked Elon if SpaceX will ever go public as he wanted to own the trifecta of Elon’s companies (including Solar City).  Elon said that wall street lives quarter to quarter and that model does not work with long times for launching rockets.  He said that “Space X will go public once they have regular flights to Mars”.

Conclusion

The shareholder meeting was quite an enjoyable event.  Listening to Elon and his clear vision of “sustainable transport” and a few interesting tidbits was well worth the short drive.  The extra treat was to be able to ask a couple of questions directly to the CTO.  Just being around two very intelligent people doing interesting and valuable things is inspiring.

Tesla Community Blogs

Tesla Owner and Teslaliving are two of the more in-depth independent Tesla owners and bloggers on the web.  We’ve decided to join forces on this post to talk about or beginnings and focus areas and to encourage other owners to share their stories.

Although we live on opposite coasts in the United States, we are both engineers by trade and successful entrepreneurs.

Beginnings – Tesla Owner

I began a relationship with Tesla in 2006 at an EV event at Palo Alto High School.  At the event, I talked to several different car “manufacturers”.  The only one that impressed me was Tesla.  They had a mockup / prototype of the Roadster that was pretty rough.  After that initial conversation, I shortly put my $75,000 down for my Roadster.   The blog was born upon the delivery of one of the first 200 Roadsters in 2008.

The Roadster was driven about 29,000 miles before being sold in early 2013 in order to purchase a Model S.  The Model S now has 32,000 miles including being driven back and forth cross-country in the spring of 2014.

Beginnings – Tesla Living

My introduction to Tesla was oddly a from a sales guy at my office (not in the auto industry) dropping in and telling me I should buy a Tesla. I quickly googled it, saw the price, laughed him out of my office and forgot all about it. Or so I thought. 6 months later I was struggling with a car nearing 200,000 miles and a daughter about to start driving. I needed another car. My high mileage driving (at 100 miles a day on average) had my fuel costs at about $600/month. I started researching hybrids and almost talked myself into a Ford Fusion Hybrid but just couldn’t mentally get past the irrationality of having two powertrains in a vehicle. I slid towards EVs and found they had no range. Or almost all of them had no range. I looked at the Tesla and it still looked crazy. But then I saw Tesla’s attempt at justifying the cost and I wondered if they could be on to something. As an engineer, I ran the numbers.  My math told me buying a modern replacement for what I was driving was the same financial decision as buying a Tesla Model S. I was 99% sold on the Model S before my test drive that concluded with an order. What I didn’t expect when mathematically picking a car was get so excited about it pre and post delivery and for that not to wear off. With more than 90 posts and new experiences in the Model S every week that passion has not worn off!

Focus Areas – Tesla Owner

The Tesla Owner site began when electric car drivers were very few and far between.  I wanted to share a real world experience driving a high end electric car.  Every service visit and every problem is documented in the blog.  Since I began when so very few Tesla were on the road, the blog is written in an anonymous style in order to limit any possible identification by Tesla personnel.  The idea was that all service visits and customer treatment would be the same as every other owner.  But after some of the controversial data required a response before publishing, Tesla is aware of the true identity of Tesla Owner.

I sold the Roadster and changed to the Model S for two main reasons.  First the Roadster is a very small car.  The cabin space is very small.  I’ve always enjoyed larger interiors and sufficient trunk space.  My ICE car before the Roadster was a Mercedes E420.  The second reason I switched to the Model S was the supercharging capabilities.  I was so excited to be able to take long road trips without using gasoline.

When the first superchargers were built, I excitedly drove down to Gilroy and quickly took a trip down to Los Angeles.  But I was not able to achieve the times Tesla was claiming for charging my car.  My first controversial blog post was a test of the claim that a driver could charge 200 miles in 30 minutes.  After repeated tests, Tesla was contacted to respond to the post including pulling data from the superchargers themselves.  They subsequently lowered their claim down to 170 miles in 30 minutes.

In my career, I had worked in various engineering, marketing and quality roles.  Somehow this past experience clearly influenced my blog.  I then conducted some more supercharger time tests and a field test of the earlier A (90kW) batteries vs the newer batteries (120kW) with two other owners.  The test in the end calmed down the somewhat angry early Tesla buyers by achieving a difference of only 5 minutes for charging between the oldest batteries and the newer ones.

The most harrowing experience that has been blogged about was an almost tire blow out due to shredding of the interior sidewall.  Fortunately the Model S watches tire pressure and the car was stopped before the tire shredded completely.

Along side my Tesla specific posts, I blog from time to time technology related to keeping our environment clean.  I have owned solar panels for many years now and am looking forward to reporting soon that all my electricity to drive my Tesla will be free forever.

Focus Areas – Tesla Living

As a hardware and software engineer I was drawn to the technology of the Model S. I love the interfaces and the potential they offer. I spend a lot of time poking at the software features and functions, noting the strengths and weaknesses, making lists of things I would love to see them add, collecting metrics on all sorts of things, and watching for new features as they’re delivered to owners with software updates. Not being very mechanical, another aspect of my blogging is sort of “Driving the Model S for Dummies” with one mistake or learning experience after another in owning an EV, and planning road trips, etc. Like Tesla Owner, I prefer to remain mostly anonymous as I intentionally write about the good and the bad of the Model S and Tesla and want to stay independent.

Top Posts – Tesla Owner

I have written over 250 posts in 5 1/2 years.  More than half of these posts were about the Model S.  The Roadster was a very fun car to drive but was a much simpler car that did not lead to as many interesting blogging subjects.

My most popular posts are feature comparisons.  These posts continue to generate hits month after month as new Tesla buyers perform searches on the web.  The top posts are comparisons between the different Model S models and choosing between the different wheel sizes along with two posts about aesthetics.

Three other very popular posts are my aforementioned tests of the supercharger claims and my harrowing experience with tire issues. But my most popular all time post has nothing to do with the Model S and is in fact a more generic subject.  I just don’t care for convertibles all that much.

Convertible – Not For Me

Top Posts – Tesla Living

Some of my most popular posts are:

I’ve written over 90 posts in 6 months and one of the most popular pages on my site is the list of all posts in order chronologically. Some people actually read all the posts from the beginning but that’s not for the faint of heart.

Future Plans – Tesla Owner

I always have a running list of topics to write about.  Typically, half of them are relatively easy blogs to write and the other half require some in-depth analysis.  I always like to throw in a few light hearted posts on related topics.  For a long time, I wanted to update the aesthetics of my website including changing the picture of the Roadster to the Model S to avoid confusion.

I have already requested from my current Service Manager an P85D loaner!  Hopefully sometime in 2015 I will be able to drive one for the day.  I will definitely take it out for a good spin probably over to the coast like I did with the P85+ last year.  I am very much looking forward to enjoying the 0-60 in 3.2 seconds but also would like to understand the characteristics of the acceleration.

Future Plans – Tesla Living

Like Tesla Owner I have a running list of things that come to me as I catch up on the Tesla and TMC forums, watch videos from Nick Howe and others, etc. Then life happens and more things end up on the list. Winter is coming fast here in New England and my adventure with solar is just beginning and already a mini-saga so I expect those two will drive quite a bit of the near term posts.

Conclusion

The Tesla Owner and Teslaliving blogs are complementary and similar but different perspectives into owning the Tesla Model S – a car and company that are changing the auto industry forever.

Supercharger Review

Over the course of a year I have managed to visit 67 superchargers around the country.  On the Tesla Motors Club Forum is a friendly (and somewhat silly) contest to see who has visited the most superchargers.  I am currently in the lead by one.  I know the person behind me plans to leave for another trip in September, so I will very soon loose my title.

After visiting so many superchargers, I feel I have enough experience to review the features at the superchargers. What is quite nice is that each location is unique.

The following are my favorite features listed in the general order of priority although all the features are in fact quite desirable:

  1. Easily accessible restrooms
  2. A variety of restaurant choices preferably non-chain
  3. Nearby hotels
  4. Safe neighborhood
  5. Walkable streets
  6. A variety of daily shopping choices:  grocery stores preferred over outlet malls.
  7. Free wi-fi
  8. Clearer stall signage
  9. Car washing service
  10. Public charging?
  11. More locations vs. more stalls

1. Easily accessible restrooms

A nice clean and easily accessible restroom is ideal such as in a welcome center.  Sometimes it can feel awkward using a restroom in a restaurant when one is not hungry.  I try to patronize the businesses nearby the superchargers but I can’t necessarily eat a meal or stay in a hotel every time I charge.

2.  A variety of restaurant choices

I also found that the more restaurants around a supercharger the better.  Tesla owners have a variety of tastes in food and variety is also nice for the individual driver.  I strongly prefer local restaurant chains serving locally sourced food.  After a while eating at the same chain restaurants gets very old.

3.  Nearby hotels

For a long road trip it is also nice to charge at your destination.  Destination or hotel charging does not need to be a supercharger.

If you use plugshare.com on the Tesla screen or http://tesla.plugshare.com elsewhere, you can sort for chargers with the tag “hotel only” that will find hotels with any kind of charging capability.  Most chargers except the very slowest can charge your car overnight.  I am not sure when this feature will roll into the standard website and the companion Recargo app. Non-tesla electric car drivers may need to use destination charging, and I almost always plan my trip on a computer not in the car.

Also Tesla itself has recently added to their charging page icons for destination charging.  Several businesses have purchased Tesla high powered chargers for their customer’s use.  While looking around this new web page, I discovered that a Tesla can now easily go to Yosemite by staying  at the Groveland hotel that is on the way from the bay area and has recently installed a Tesla high powered connector for customer use.  Even if you choose to sleep elsewhere, you can use this charger for $5.

4.  Safe neighborhood

Most Tesla superchargers are located in relatively innocuous locations off the main freeway.  But safety is of course a concern for everyone.  Some Tesla owners are uncomfortable with the location of the current Las Vegas supercharger.

5.  Walkable streets

Walkable streets is also quite important.  Unfortunately these days many suburbs are truly built for driving instead of walking.  When I walk in the areas around the superchargers, I rarely see other individuals walking and many cars streaming by.  Look at the two pictures below taken near the Roseville supercharger.  While walking from the supercharger to Whole Foods and back, I had to cross the street three times instead of just once, because there was no crosswalk!  And right near the supercharger there is a section of the road in the mall that simply has no sidewalk.

No crosswalk in Roseville

No crosswalk in Roseville

Crosswalk but No Sidewalks in Roseville

Crosswalk but No Sidewalks in Roseville

Even when I started to visit the superchargers, I often wondered about physically challenged people due to long term conditions or temporary injuries.  Many of the superchargers are located in the back sections of parking lots and the target destination for spending the time can be significantly far away.  California weather is nice enough for walking a vast majority of time, but in many parts of the country long treks in wind and snow from the supercharger are not particularly pleasant.

6.  Shopping

After visiting the first California superchargers, I began to tire of outlet malls.  I began to quickly realize on longer journeys, I preferred supercharging near practical stores like grocery and drug stores.  On my recent trip to Oregon, I really liked that I could pick up groceries while supercharging in Roseville instead of stopping later.

7.  Free wi-fi

I think free wi-fi is a nice amenity, but I found myself either using my smartphone or the car’s wifi.  Only a few times I pulled out a laptop and usually did not really need wi-fi.

8.  Clearer shared stall signage

Most locations now have the stalls marked “1A, 1B, 2A, 2B” etc… But the labels are often difficult to see while in the car.  It would be nice if the labels were near the top of the posts.

Stall Identifier Too Hard to Read While Parking

Stall Identifier Too Hard to Read While Parking

9.  Car washing service

As the supercharger use picks up, I would like to see enterprising locals provide a car washing service.  I would easily pay for someone to clean with minimum water my car such as the service available here locally in Redwood City.  Or an enterprising person could offer to clean the windshields as long as they obey local ordinances.  I had one very generous person in South Dakota insist on cleaning my windshield for free.

10.  Public charging?

I find it interesting that Tesla lists on their web page for each supercharger nearby public charging.  I have only encountered a very short wait twice at the superchargers.  Perhaps if all the stalls needed service due to some calamity, the owners could charge at the nearby public charger.

11.  More locations vs. more stalls

I have occasionally been to superchargers when all the chargers are in-use.  At some point instead of adding more chargers at a particular location, I’d prefer that Tesla adds a new supercharger locations offsetting the use at the existing stations. With more choice, the traveling options for Tesla owners will be more flexible.  I am not very fond of freeways, so if the density of superchargers throughout the country was every 150 miles no matter where you traveled, you could truly take any open road.

Bitter Cold and Wind

For the last few days I have been traveling through Wyoming and South Dakota in very high winds of gusts up to 55 mph and temperatures almost always in the 30s.  I’m a native Californian, and for me this weather is bitter cold and difficult to even stay out of the car for more than a few minutes to take some photos wearing a down jacket and a hat.  A few times the wind was so strong it was almost hard to walk.

When I left Lusk, Wyoming with a full range charge, I began the first 5 miles using over 500 Wh/mile, which is a huge number.  The battery was cold, the outside air temperature about 32 degrees fahrenheit (0 degree celsius) and very gusty winds even up to 55 mph.  I was quite cautious on the drive into the Black Hills area.  I was driving under the speed limit for most of the trip – beginning at 55 mph and then up to 65 mph.  Even if the route between the superchargers is only 149 miles, I used up almost all of my electricity during the journey.

Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park

I took an “indoor” excursion into Wind Cave National Park.  This cave is quite interesting with many separate passageways that are very maze like.  And lots of unusual shapes on the walls.  I had lunch at the Black Hills Burger & Bun Company in downtown Custer, which has both traditional hamburgers, buffalo and a homemade black bean burgers.

I also stopped in at both the Crazy Horse Monument and Mount Rushmore.   I think all visitors to this area need to see both.  Both monuments represent people and movements that are important to the development in the United States.  Mount Rushmore honors four important presidents to our development as a nation, and Crazy Horse honors one of the last Native warriors and the cruel legacy of how the Native Americans were treated.

The Crazy Horse Monument scale is gigantic.  I tried to represent the two side by side in the montage photo below as a reasonably accurate representation of the size difference.  Although you can see Crazy Horse from the road, the cost of admission and the short ride to the base gives you a fascinating sense of the scale of this monument.  Only Crazy Horse’s face is complete; when complete the entire sculpture will reach the trees below.  I enjoy watching construction projects and can appreciate the amount of effort already undertaken and continuing for years into the future.

Crazy Horse Monument in Relationship to Mount Rushmore

Crazy Horse Monument in Relationship to Mount Rushmore

At the Mount Rushmore monument parking gate, the fee taker recognized my car.  We began to talk about Teslas and I gave him a ride in the car.  Turns out Elon Musk was seen here in his black Tesla along with a second silver Tesla.

During these journeys while supercharging, I took breaks in the nearby lodging facilities when not eating.  I have found that even in remote corners of the west, all the food service is now so fast even in sit down restaurants.  I also have stopped overnight next to the superchargers.  Late in the evening, the last thing I want to do is wait for the car to charge, I’d rather walk over to the closest motel.

I also found I needed to use my first non-supercharger on this journey in the Badlands National Park.  I wanted to see one of the minuteman missile sites.  The park ranger told me that the self guided site was back another forty miles (thirty in reality) round trip from the intersection where I was going to be turning east.  I asked the rangers at Badlands if I could charge using some of their RV spots.  Turns out I was lucky as the head ranger had been wanting to add a charging spot, and I added 60 miles of charge in their volunteer RV hookups at 40 amps.

First Charging in a RV facility in Badlands National Park

First Charging in a RV facility in Badlands National Park

In the end, the missile site was not overwhelming but worth seeing.  The decommissioned missile that was on view seemed so small for the huge amount of destruction it could have caused.   My best estimate if I had not topped off in the RV park would have run out of juice 30 miles west of the supercharger unless I had slowed down dangerously on the freeway.

The last leg into the first supercharger into Minnesota, I drove conservatively staying near the speed limit but only could average 400 Wh/mile.  I kept getting the “Service Tire Pressure Warning” light and went off and on a few times in Minnesota.

While on this leg of the journey, a reporter out of Los Angeles ran out of charge in his rented Tesla in the California / Arizona desert.  I chose not to drive direct from Barstow to Kingman because I was worried about the distance given the high speeds on the freeway and the wind conditions.  Driving an electric car does require more planning than a gas vehicle because charging options are not as ubiquitous today.

Near the supercharger in Worthington, Minnesota were a large number of windmills.  I’m hoping I charged with wind power.  I actually spotted another Tesla with California plates at the supercharger in Worthington when I left.

Wind Turbines Near Worthington, Minnesota

Wind Turbines Near Worthington, Minnesota

 

 

Close to the Limits

We finally had a rainy spell this winter during our drought here in California.  One morning the car actually slipped pretty severely!  The road situation was actually very extreme.  I was driving on a very unusual pavement where half the roadway was a large grate — probably five feet in length.  So two of my wheels were on wet slick pavement and the other two were traversing this highly unusual grate.  For a brief instant the car definitely swerved and scared me a bit but the quickly corrected itself as nothing had happened.  I rarely actually take this particular section of road, but I vaguely remember it being dicey in the past.  I suspect this unusual grate was installed to correct severe flooding problems.

Limited Regen

Limited Regen

Late last year we had a serious cold snap and the garage one morning was around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (about 5 degrees Celsius).  To my surprise, I actually had a dashed yellow line — limiting regen.  While parked the car uses as little energy as possible to keep the battery warm in order to avoid the energy wasting vampire drain.  In cold weather you can drive your car with a cold battery, but the regeneration of energy into the battery is limited.  After only a couple of miles of driving, the battery warmed up and the yellow line disappeared.

 

Limited Acceleration

Limited Acceleration

As I earlier reported, I did a number of supercharger tests where I drained my battery down to 0 rated range.  While intentionally draining the battery, the upper limit of power was reduced — indicated by the dashed yellow line.  I don’t remember the exact rated range left before the power was limited but it was at a significantly lower level than normal.  The car still had enough pep to very comfortably drive.

I also noticed in the rain serious impact to the rear facing camera.  I think this is a problem with all cars.  I had grown a little too dependent on the camera during driving instead of the traditional mirrors and head turning.

Mediocre Visibility in Rear View Camera in the Rain

Mediocre Visibility in Rear View Camera in the Rain

Three Tesla Events

I generally don’t cover Tesla news as the mainstream media and the two forums cover them well.  Recently there have been three events that I thought were worth mentioning on this blog.

First, two teams of people managed to cross the country in Tesla’s using the supercharger network.  The first was a father and daughter team.  The second was an official Tesla team earning a Guinness world record for “lowest charge time for an electric vehicle traveling across the country”.  Seems like somewhat an odd world record but they basically made it in a little over three days in true winter weather.

Both of these exercises would not be particularly fun or something a typical driver would want to do.  Most people would want to stop and enjoy the scenery and sights and not simply drive from point A to point B.  But both of these trips showed that enjoyable road trips throughout the world will soon be possible as more and more superchargers are installed.

One notable feature I noticed in the coverage of the official Tesla cross country drive was the newer firmware has an option to show the percentage of battery remaining.  I am excited about this small feature as I think the percentage is much more intuitive than the current reading of rated range miles.

The third event was a Q&A session in Norway with Elon Musk and JB Straubel in Oslo last week.  You can watch the long video.  I found the following points the most interesting.

The upcoming version 6 software will have some new features and improvements on existing features.

  1. Real time traffic.  This feature is already there but may include an interaction with navigation or faster updating.
  2. Internet music improvements.
  3. More suspension options for the driver.  You will be able to adjust the suspension manually at a variety of speeds.
  4. A later update of the software in the version 6 family will have lines in the backup camera.

Tesla is working on an active hill hold feature.  Today the Model S on hills reminds me of stick shift cars where if you were not good with the clutch, the car would roll back.  With the Model S, you have to use your brake on hills in order to not roll back.  On steep hills, I often feel like I need to very quickly shift from the brake pad to the accelerator.  I have experimented with trying to use the existing creep feature on steep hills but it did not solve the problem in a significant way.  In extreme situations, I have used both feet to release the brake instantaneously while pressing the accelerator.

Various questions from the audience brought up physical aspects of the car.

  1. Center console for storing items is coming soon.
  2. Improved seats will also be available as an upgrade.  First, a small upgrade in the spring force of the seat and later on a redesigned upgraded seat.  Seats today need to work with the air bag system so redesigns are not that simple.
  3. Improvements in radio reception.  I find the radio reception today so much improved over the original Roadster’s radio, I don’t notice this issue.

A discussion occurred on how green the Model S is.  Tesla has done an internal energy study on the car production and will release a white paper on this soon.  JB said that the energy payback occurs in less than 10,000 miles of driving.  Elon also said the car with a battery replacement should easily last twenty years.

Most of the superchargers this year will be charging at 135kW — another improvement of charging times for most Model S owners.

Tesla does not record car speed or location data.  During an emergency, they can detect this information.  They do monitor the battery regularly.

Various discussion points about the Model X and its gull wing doors.  A Norwegian driver was concerned about transporting long skis.  Elon said there is potentially a place for a ski box in the triangular place between the doors or a location under the seats.  I doubt the Model X will be able to transport a paddleboard or a kayak.  Elon also said if you can physically fit between the Model X and the car, the doors will have enough side clearance to open.